Darnestown Presbyterian Church
With only a 140-person capacity in what was still largely an 1855 “country church,” the Darnestown Presbyterian congregation of 300 members stretched its historic worship space weekly. Strongly identifying with their iconic church building, the congregation hired LeMay Erickson Willcox to renovate and expand the historic church as the only realistic path forward. By removing the tiny 1955 chancel “box,” LEWA was able to insert a more gracious chancel and two new transepts, expanding seating to 250 seats. A simple new two-gable facade camouflages the brown brick exterior of the 1967 education building and announces the new gathering space main entrance. The entire assemblage is unified on a low stone terrace that sweeps across the front of the building, accommodating outdoor gatherings and creating a dignified presence. On the sanctuary interior, new trim and ceiling detail improve on the proportions of a 1950’s renovation, enhancing the historic nature of the campus. A new brass cross serves as the primary focal point, whether against the closed wood shutters, or in a more ephemeral way when the shutters open to the large cemetery beyond. LEWA’s work is both transformative, and entirely seamless with the original historic church.